That is a question most pastors never dreamed they’d be asked.
Yet in the past several months I have been asked that question three or four times, and I’m sure with the current state of affairs, questions like that are only going to become more frequent. So what is a Christian to do if they are asked to attend a same-sex wedding?
Let me say right from the start, I don’t think there is one stock answer. It would be easy to answer like this: Same-sex marriage is no marriage at all; it’s nothing less than sin, and I, as a Christian, will have nothing to do with anything like that.
Strictly speaking, that would be a perfectly legitimate biblical response. The Bible knows nothing of same-sex marriage. According to the Bible, marriage is exclusively the union between a man and a woman; all same-sex sexual relationships are clearly and unequivocally condemned in Scripture as sinful and needing to be repented of.
But even with that being the case, I don’t know that a Christian’s response would always necessarily have to be along those lines. Could there be a circumstance where, for the purpose of showing the unconditional love of Christ and the abundant grace of God toward sinners, the Lord might lead some of us to go to such an event? I don’t know. But think about this.
Paul said to the Corinthians: “I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world … since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother (or sister) who is sexually immoral … not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges” (1 Corinthians 5:9-13).
Here, it seems to me, are two different approaches to sinful situations. One has to do with those professing Christ who are living in sin; the other has to do with those who are living in sin but make no profession of Christ—they are the “sexually immoral people of this world.”
For those who profess Christ but persist in sin, Paul said, discontinue associations with them. But for the “sexually immoral people of this world,” Paul said that it’s God’s job to judge them. What then are we to do with them? I believe we are to seek to win them to Christ so they can be saved from judgment. But I can only do that if I have contact with them, preferably the kind of contact that allows me to show them something of God’s love and grace.
There needs to be a relationship, even a friendship. Jesus was known as the friend of sinners, not because He condoned anyone’s sin, but because He associated with sinners and made Himself accessible to them. He bid them come to Him, just as they were, with all of their guilt and sin, and He would forgive them. He would cleanse them.
Perhaps there will be these kinds of occasions for us where we are led by His Spirit to be there among those who are so lost as to think that marrying someone of the same sex is good and right and beautiful. But we know differently, and we know that it’s only a matter of time before the truth of the destructive nature of sin begins to show itself in those relationships. Then, who knows?
Perhaps because we’ve loved and prayed for them, they’ll turn to us for answers, and we can then point them to Jesus, the Savior, the only One who can fill the emptiness inside and make the crooked places straight.
So what’s my answer? Should a Christian attend a same-sex wedding? This is my present perspective on it, and for me it comes down to drawing a distinction between the two groups Paul mentioned in 1 Corinthians 5.
If those marrying claim they are believers and that God is leading them to be married, and they are inviting you to come celebrate their love with them, I believe the answer is no; you should not have any part in anything like that. These are the people that Paul said we are to separate from.
But if, on the other hand, the person is a rank-and-file unbeliever, perhaps a relative, an old friend, a work colleague, or whatever the case might be, and they invite you, this is where I would say pray about it and be open to the Lord having you there as part of the “bigger picture” work that He’s doing in the lives of those who presently are lost but could one day be found. “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).
UPDATE: Thanks for all the thoughtful comments below. I have written a follow up piece that answer a few of the key questions that were sent to me. Working Through The Issues: More Thoughts On Attending An LGBT Friend’s Wedding